First-Gen Apple TV: $237 in Parts; Second-Gen Apple TV: $64 in Parts

Published on October 6, 2010
by John Paczkowski

Apple’s new Apple TV is about a quarter of the size of its predecessor.

And it costs about a quarter as much to make it.

According to iSuppli, the bill of materials for the latest iteration of Apple’s $99 “hobby” is $64, significantly less than the $237 it cost the company to build the 2007 model.* That’s quite a disparity, one evidently driven as much by an adjustment of product vision as build (dumping that costly hard drive obviously didn’t hurt either). Where the original Apple TV was built like a small desktop PC, its successor is built more like an iPad, with a few of the same components; the two devices have an A4 processor in common, as well as Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and power management chips.

That evolution has given consumers a much-improved device with a pitch-perfect design (though it does have some serious shortcomings in the content department), and it’s given Apple (AAPL) better margins.

“Compared to the first-generation Apple TV, the new model offers a dramatically improved ratio of hardware cost to retail price,” iSuppli noted in its teardown analysis. “The initial version of the Apple TV appeared to be a near give-away or subsidized product for Apple, sold at prices that weren’t much more than the underlying hardware costs. With the second-generation version of the hardware, the Apple TV’s price is about 35 percent above its BOM and manufacturing cost.”

*The standard iSuppli caveats apply here. The company’s estimate accounts for hardware and manufacturing costs ONLY–R&D, software, licensing costs, etc. are not considered.

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